About me

Share History and Dialogue of my Dutch friends with Japanese,  in search of Our Peace Tomorrow

updated on 30 Mar. 2012

My name is Fumi Hoshino. I am a Japanese architect, who lives in the Netherlands already long time since 1988. 

In 2001 I encounter with Dutch people with Indisch background: they came back from Indonesia after the war. They usually suffered from terrible experiences at the Interment- or POW camps in Indonesia under Japanese occupation during the war, and often decades after the war, too. Since then I keep contact with them and I made a few wonderful friends. Until recently I didn't know what to do with this piece of dark history, except listening to their personal stories and sharing their pain as much as I could. In 2011 I finally found an answer and I took over this mission from my best friends. They are two of those Dutch people.

What do Japanese people now think about the position of Japan in terms of world peace, and are they aware of how other people think of Japanese in relation to the war ?

Many Japanese might think that they always are peace-loving people. The Japanese constitution forbid them to attack any other countries, and even to own an aggressive army for it. They want to live in peace but Japan is rather threatened by other countries; many people were abducted to North Korea, and our island Takeshima is claimed by Koreans and other Senkaku islands by Chinese. Many politician says that they need several American bases in Okinawa to protect Japan from such danger in this region. Speaking of war damages Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only cities in the whole world where atomic bombs were actually used, and many other cities were also bombarded during the WWII. After the WWII there were many wars in the world such as the ones in Vietnam, Middle East, and in Africa, but Japan was not involved except some assistance in Iraq. At the WWII Japan was involved, but there must be no one left in the world who still hold a grudge to Japan because of the war 70 years ago.

I myself had such a vague naive idea when I immigrated to Holland 25 years ago after normal education in Japan. But later I learned that there were people in Holland who were still feeling bitter about Japan. During the first official visit of the Japanese emperor to Holland in 80's there was an incident where eggs were thrown at him. Once a Japanese prime minister visited Holland and brought a bouquet of flowers at the war memorial for Indonesia, but it was thrown away into a canal on that night. There is still a group of people who demonstrate every month in front of the Japanese embassy to demand an official apology and war reparation for their damage during the war. 

Do we, especially Japanese people, really know about the war? Let's check. Do you know how many Japanese people were killed during the Second World War?

More than three millions. Two atomic bombs caused about 400,000, and about 300,000 by the bombardments in other cities, but more than 2 millions soldiers died as well. 

Then how about other Asian countries? The numbers of death in Korea were 230,000, in China 5 millions, in Philippine 160,000, in ex-Dutch East Indies 700,000, in Malay 4 millions, in Burma 160,000, … Reference

And the enemy of all these countries was Japan, and Japan invaded all of them for their own interest. As the result of this aggression the area occupied by Japan was as huge as indicated in this map. 

After the capitulation of Japan in August 1945 more than 3 millions of Japanese people came back to Japan from out side. How was it in the area occupied by the Japanese force? Did you know anything about them? What do they mean to us now?

When Japanese army invaded Indonesia or former Dutch East Indies in 1942, Wim and Adrie, who later became my friends, were living there, and they were at that time 7 and 26 years old. Together with other 70,000 Dutch civilians they were sent to more than 100 internment camps, which were called "Jap camps". When the mother of Wim became seriously ill without enough food and medicine, what did Wim say to his dying mother as her oldest son? How did she react to him as a mother who knew that her time was almost running out? Where was the father of Wim at that time? What Adrie did who was in the neighborhood?

After Japan capitulated on 15th of August 1945 they were liberated from the camps, but was that the end of the disaster and could they go back to the good old life before the war? Were all the problems settled now after almost 70 years after the war? 

They started dialogue with Japanese people. From 1995 until 2005 they visited Japan 6 times and traveled from Mizumaki in Fukuoka prefecture to Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture. They developed wonderful and unforgettable friendship with many people.

Also in Holland they started talking to Japanese people who lived there, and with such Japanese friends and other Dutch friends they started the conference of Dialogue Netherlands-Japan in 2000. In the last 13 years of Dialogue conferences Wim and Adrie have reported several times about their private mission. But because Wim got sick and Adrie passed away early 2011, their mission is left untouched already for some years. 

Just before Adrie passed away in 2011 I proposed her to take over  their mission, and she approved. I decided to become their messenger. It means that I follow their path and keep trying to build bridges beyond the dark history through dialogue. As they did I would encourage people neither to forget the dark past, nor to feel bitter about it in order to construct positive future. We suggest each of you to think and act as an independent human being free from the limits of your own country, culture and time, and to communicate and respect with other human being in the rest of the world. 

Practically speaking I give lectures and have dialogue, with Japanese people living in Holland, and when I can visit there. In April 2012 I visited from Mizumaki in Fukuoka, to Kamaishi, where Wim and Adrie used to visit. 

Would you be interested to know Why NOW? after almost 70 years since it happened?

The last request to you is contact me if you are intersted in such a dilogue or even willing to have my lecture / Dialogue workshop in your school or any kind of group/organization, or if you know someone who might be interested to do that, or if you have any advice or support for this mission, or if you have any question, comment, or interest. This is important because I cannot have a dialogue alone.

I call it the mission WAF in respect to the friendship between Wim, Adrie, en Fumi.